Friday, March 24, 2017

The Goshen-Plainview Point Mystery - GHOSTS OF THE HEART



Figure One - A Goshen point on the left found in Weld County, Colorado
and a Plainview point on the right found in Deaf Smith County, Texas.
Can you tell the difference in projectile point types between the two prehistoric projectile points in Figure One? I did not think so, that is pretty tough to do. Technologically and typologically, these two projectile points are identical. The 2.3 inch long projectile point on the left was recovered from the ground surface on private land in Weld County, Colorado. Its prehistoric owner used a grayish-orange petrified wood to make this projectile point. The projectile point type for this point is Goshen.

The projectile point on the right in Figure One was surface rescued from private land in Deaf Smith County, Texas. Its prehistoric owner used Alibates Agatized Dolomite from the Panhandle of Texas to make this point. The projectile point type for this point is Plainview.

Hmm...Goshen and Plainview? Why do two seemingly identical projectile points carry different names?

Figure TwoCLICK for INFORMATION
During the summer of 1941, two young cousins, named Val Keene Whitacre and Bill Weaks, dug into a soft caliche embankment along Running Water Draw near Plainview, Texas. What the two boys discovered pushed back Plainview, Texas human history by about 10,000 years or so.

Whitacre was the boy that actually made the important discovery — he found a long, stone spear point with one end still embedded in thick, fossilized bone. When he picked up the bone and artifact, the bone crumbled apart.

In 1944, two geologists Glen L. Evans and Grayson E. Meade dug into that same caliche bank and found an incredible discovery — a bed of skeletons and partial skeletons for approximately 100 extinct bison. The two geologists also found stone projectile points, knives and scrapers associated with the bone bed.

Texas Memorial Museum and UT's Bureau of Economic Geology carried out further excavations at the site from June to October in 1945 and in November of 1949.
Figure Three - U.S. Goshen-Plainview projectile point distribution.

Although collectors had been finding similar projectile points of this distinctive type from Canada to Mexico (Figure Three), the discovery at Plainview, Texas marked the first time anyone had found this projectile point type in direct association with fossilized remains of extinct animals. Archaeologists named this point type, Plainview, and determined it was younger than another famous projectile point type at the time called Folsom. Eventually, archaeologists dated Plainview projectile points at around 10,000 years old.   





Figure Four - Montana's Mill Iron Site Goshen projectile points,
practically indistinguishable from Texas's Plainview projectile points,
but about one thousand years older.   


In mid-August of 1966, at the Hell Gap site in Goshen County, Wyoming, archaeologists were just about ready to terminate the investigation when they discovered a cultural zone below the already discovered Folsom cultural level. A sterile layer of dirt separated the two cultural zones. At first, archaeologists thought that the first complete projectile point in this new cultural zone was an atypical Folsom  projectile point and then they thought it might be a Clovis projectile point. Finally, principal archaeologist Henry Irwin noted the similarities between this new point and Plainview points found in Texas. However, there was a time dilemma. Plainview points in Texas were approximately one thousand years younger than Goshen points on the High Plains.   







Although the projectile point types from the Plainview and Hell Gap Sites were typologically and technologically the same, Plainview projectile points in Texas were younger than Folsom projectile points while at the Hell Gap Site, the Plainview-look alike projectile point was older than Folsom. Therefore, based on this "time discrepancy", Henry Irwin named a new projectile point type at Hell Gap called Goshen, after the county where the Hell Gap Site was located.  

This time gap between Goshen on the High Plains and Plainview in Texas was further confirmed in the 1980s at the Mill Iron Site in Montana (Figure Four).

Figure Five - CLICK TO ORDER

Monday, March 13, 2017

SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL - Fair to Midland




Figure One - Reconstruction of the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL scenario below,
although in the drawing above there are two caribou bulls not a bull and a cow elk. 
Two majestic elk, a young bull and a cow, walked out from behind the trees, heading straight at Chayton. The bull led the way while the cow followed behind. The elk held their heads high and sniffed at the air, smelling for any danger that would set them off running. The elk, upwind from Chayton, did not pick up his scent and kept walking towards him.

Chayton’s left throwing arm was cocked and ready to throw the first spear, but the bull was still walking straight at him. Chayton did not like his chances for a kill with this throw. The bull had no vital organs exposed to Chayton’s line of fire and unless Chayton threw perfectly
Figure Two -  CLICK for MORE information
and severed an artery, the elk would not go down. The last thing Chayton wanted to do was track a wounded elk in this rugged country.

Chayton needed the elk to turn and expose its side to his spear. Chayton thought about moving, but one sound and he would send the elk crashing through the trees in the opposite direction. The elk continued to walk straight towards Chayton. Any closer and they would pick up Chayton’s scent.

Chayton searched the ground with his right hand and found a small rock. While his left arm kept his spear ready to throw, he hurled the rock to his right where it ricocheted off a tree. The bull reared back and ran away from the sound, exposing the left side to Chayton's spear. Chayton hurled the spear and the sharp fluted spear point popped when it penetrated the bull’s rib cage. The bull continued to run to the left while Chayton readied another spear. The confused cow ran away from Chayton, crashing through the trees that led back up the bluff. Chayton grabbed the rest of his spears and followed the blood spoor left by the bull.



I took the above hunting scene from my prehistoric thriller book entitled SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL. A young hunter named Chayton from the Folsom People just stalked and harvested a bull elk. I imagine food was always on the minds of the Folsom People some 10,700 years ago. When Chayton's spear smashed into the rib cage of the bull elk, I imagine the fragile stone projectile point might have been damaged. 



Figure Three - 1.8 inch long Midland dart point, exhibiting
a damaged and repaired tip from an impact fracture.  
I love finding and doing autopsies on damaged prehistoric artifacts and coming up with what I believe was the artifact’s history. Please do not get me wrong, I love finding perfect prehistoric artifacts, but the damaged prehistoric artifacts probably have a much more interesting story to tell.
Readers can see both sides of a tip damaged Midland dart / spear point in Figures Three and Four, surface recovered in Texas and made around the same time that Chayton was harvesting his bull elk above, sometime around 10,700 years ago. In fact, perhaps, Chayton used this Midland point and ultimately lost it. ;).  


Midland projectile points were made flat and resembled Folsom points without the fluting. Collectors and archaeologists often find Midland points associated with Folsom points, leading some analysts to believe that Midland points were just unfluted Folsom points. There are some people, however, that believe that Midland artifacts deserve their own cultural designation. Midland projectile points fall within the age range of the Folsom Complex, at around 10,900 to 10,200 years old.   

Figure Four - Side B of Midland dart point,
showing other side of repaired tip.    
Ronny Walker surface rescued this 1.8 inch long Midland dart point in a cotton field in Lynn County, Texas. This root-beer colored, semi-translucent Midland point is very thin. The Paleoindian who made this projectile point ground and polished the edges right up to its new tip (see where angle changes). Paleoindians ground and polished the edges of their projectile point to ensure the razor sharp rock did not slice through and damage the animal sinew they used to bind the projectile point onto the spear or dart fore shaft.
Figure Five - Impact fracture and
repaired tip. Ripples radiate in
same direction as impact occurred.  






This Texas Midland dart point saw hunting action. A bone or a rock or something hard shattered the original tip and one edge, leaving a tiny amount of rock peeking out above the sinew hafting of the dart / spear. Although the Paleoindian hunter did not have much rock left to work with, he beveled a new tip on the broken projectile point along the shattering edges of the impact fracture. The salvaged tip would have been extremely short with just the tip above the sinew hafting.   





Before this artifact resided in my collection, it resided in the Ronny Walker, Tim Elkins, Ed Rowe, Ron Van Heukelom, and Rodney Michel Collections. Dwain Rogers, Bill Jackson, Rodney Michel, and I certified this projectile point as an authentic Midland dart point.  John Branney Collection.
Figure Six - Maker of this projectile point ground the edges
smooth so when hafted on a spear, the animal sinew would
not be cut by sharp rock. This entire edge was probably hafted.


CLICK LINK for more SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY   

        

Friday, March 3, 2017

SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL- Folsom and Clovis and School in Session




Figure One - Wide range of High Plains Folsom Points from Texas, Colorado, Wyoming, and South Dakota.
Could you identify these projectile points as Folsom?  Longest point is 1.9 inches long. John Branney Collection.
My prehistoric adventure books entitled the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY took place 10,700 years ago in a land that someday we would call Texas and Colorado. The books are about a mysterious group of people called Folsom who actually lived on the Great Plains over ten thousand years ago. There is no archaeological evidence that the Folsom People had a written language. Therefore, their customs, processes, rituals, and folklore must have passed from generation to generation by word of mouth. One of the distinguishing characteristics of the Folsom People was a uniquely fluted projectile point that is both beautiful and quite complex to make. One of the processes that the Folsom People had to pass on from generation to generation was the making of these fabulous fluted projectile points. Figure One shows a few examples from my collection of Folsom projectile points from the Great Plains. Even with the variability in shape, material, and quality of these projectile points, a person with a little knowledge could identify them as Folsom projectile points.


Figure Two - The finale and third book in the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY 
In the third book of the TRILOGY entitled WINDS OF EDEN, I wrote about how I thought the Folsom People and other prehistoric people might have passed along their flint knapping processes. In the passage below, taken from my book WINDS OF EDEN, an elder teaches a few children how to make these wonderful fluted projectile points. School is in session!     

Waste! – Good!” the old man proclaimed. “We will finish a spear point.”

Just then, two more boys walked up to the campfire and greeted the old man. They looked at the young boy sitting at the old man’s feet, but did not say a word.

“You are late!” the first young boy scolded the latecomers.

“Late?” the older boy named Hogan challenged. “He has not started his story, has he?”

Hee ya, – No, he is showing me how to flute spear points,” the young boy replied, “and I will not show you.”

Enila! – Be quiet!” Hogan replied. “That is the old way and I already know how!”

“Be kind, Hogan,” the old man said to his grandson.

The old man picked up a square of tatanka – bison hide. He placed it on top of his left thigh. He then picked up the flat rock and placed it on top of the bison hide. He then placed another square of bison hide over the top of the flat rock. The old man picked up an unfinished spear point and the antler punch. The three boys watched, never taking their eyes off the old man’s skilled hands. The old man then adjusted the flat rock so it was on the inside of his left thigh. He pushed the tip of the unfinished spear point against the flat rock and lined up the antler punch against the tiny knob on the base of the spear point. When the old man was satisfied with the positioning of the spear point, he placed the other end of the antler punch against his right thigh.

 

 Since the elder was teaching the children a very complex process, we would expect variation in the final projectile points the children made. Ten thousand years later, we might just find one of the children's projectile points and wonder why all Folsom points aren't of the same quality or don't look alike. In general, the Folsom projectile points in Figure One exhibit the flint knapping hallmarks from Folsom; 1). flutes, 2). thinness, and 3). micro retouch along the edges. Now, let me switch gears to another group of prehistoric people called Clovis.
Figure Three - The first book in the TRILOGY.
CLICK THIS LINK TO OWN BOOK  

Ever since the discovery of the now famous Folsom, Clovis, and Plainview sites in the earlier part of the 20th Century, there has been an ongoing effort to identify and categorize different Paleoindian projectile points into specific projectile point types. Before the discovery of these sites, archaeologists and collectors lumped most Paleoindian projectile points into a broad category called Yuma, named after the town in Colorado where collectors were finding these artifacts.


One Paleoindian projectile point type that had a very broad geographic distribution is Clovis. Collectors and archaeologists have found Clovis-like points in forty eight states and Canada. Clovis projectile points are normally fluted, just like Folsom, but Clovis projectile points exhibit a lot more variation than Folsom, as far as dimensions, shape, and manufacturing processes.


There are several reasons that explain this variation within the Clovis projectile point type. Clovis People did not work from blueprint diagrams or have specifications when they knapped a fluted projectile point. Additionally, all prehistoric flint knappers were not created equal. The creation of Clovis projectile points came from people with different levels of skill, experience, and creativity, ranging from novice to expert. Thirdly, these Paleoindian flint knappers had to deal with a broad range of raw materials. Some raw material was just better for creating projectile points than other materials, this resulted in varying quality between one projectile points. The bottom line is that we should expect variability in quality, dimensions, and sizes in Clovis projectile points. 

No one can dispute the variability of Clovis-like fluted points across the different regions on the North American continent. This variation in Clovis-like fluted points across regions has led to many debates as to whether or not these Clovis-like variants of different sizes, shapes, time-periods, and manufacturing technologies can fit within the one and only Clovis projectile point type. Some analysts argue that these Clovis-like fluted point variants prove that they did not come from a single Clovis culture while others argue that these fluted point variants came from the same Clovis culture, but at a different time and/or place.


If these Clovis-like fluted projectile points came from the Clovis culture, one way to explain it is through a process called ‘drift’ where we see a changing of the standard through time within groups of people who share a same cultural ancestry. Drift can occur in any given culture and can happen for various reasons, including isolated populations, innovation, or evolving needs in a changing environment. As an example, when mammoths and mastodons became hard to find, Clovis people adapted their weaponry to new food sources, therefore, we would expect a change in the dimensions of the projectile points they used.   
Figure Four - Clovis - like regional variants from eastern U.S. (Haynes 2002) Were these made by the same
Clovis culture discovered in the west or different cultures who copied fluting technology?   



Figure Five - High Plains Clovis points demonstrating the wide range of variability. From left to right; New Mexico Clovis, Gainey variety; Nebraska Clovis, Colby variety, Montana Clovis, western variety; Colorado Clovis, Hazel Variety, Colorado Clovis, eastern variety; Colorado Clovis, Barnes Variety. Longest point is 3.8 inches long.
John Branney Collection.       







Figure Six - Clovis-like points from Nova Scotia, New York, and Main.
(Haynes 2002) Boy, they sure look like my Colorado Clovis
above (fifth point).   
Figure Five represents a few of my High Plains Clovis points in my collection. You can see that there is quite a bit of variation between the different Clovis projectile points. In my caption for Figure Five, I have identified the regional variants that my points most resemble. For example, the first point in my photograph is a Clovis projectile point that was surface found in New Mexico, yet it resembles a Gainey projectile point from the Great Lakes region (Figure Four). Figure Six shows some fluted projectile points from the east coast, yet, these are not called Clovis. Yet, they look an awful lot like my Colorado Clovis point in Figure Five (fifth from left).     


Bottom line is that there are a variety of reasons that a single point type such as Clovis shows  variation between different projectile points. This does not mean that these regional variants are not Clovis projectile points represented by a Clovis culture.  


Now, I am going to say goodbye for now with this food for thought. Let's return to WINDS OF EDEN to see what happened between the elder and the children. School is back in session.      

The old man motioned for his two young grandchildren to sit down in front of him, close enough to see, but far enough away to avoid flying pieces of sharp rock. The old man readjusted the flat rock with the tip of the spear point. He then carefully positioned the groove in the antler punch with the tiny knob at the base of the spear point. When everything was to his liking, the old man picked up the heavy antler hammer and took a couple of practice swings in the air. The old man then held the antler hammer above the antler punch and swung down with enough force to transfer energy from the antler punch through the rock. The rock popped loudly and when the old man lifted up the spear point for the children to see, a flute or groove ran longitudinally up the entire length of the spear point. The children laughed as if it they had just witnessed great magic. Their eyes were as big as the moon as they looked around at each other. The old man gazed around at the children, smiling. The old man was proud of the flute in the spear point and relieved that he could still do it. However, what made him the happiest was passing down the fluting tradition to the next generation of the tribe.
Figure SevenGHOSTS OF THE HEART, the third book in the TRILOGY.
CLICK to JOIN the ADVENTURE